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Surfshark Review: Great VPN for a Competitive Price

9.1
Ranked 3rd out of 376 VPNs

Updated on: September 17, 2021

It’s easy to be drawn in by Surfshark’s alluring price point alone, but can this “affordable” VPN provider really deliver the same high-quality service as its more expensive peers?

Is it able to fulfill all of the important roles that a VPN needs to serve? Can it unblock Netflix? Keep your browsing secure and anonymous? Help you torrent?

Instead of wondering whether this VPN can really cut it, I put Surfshark to the test. In this VPN review, I took a closer look at all of the important features you would want in a VPN, and the results might surprise you.

In a Hurry? Here's What You Need to Know About Surfshark

Here’s a quick glance at some of the notable features of Surfshark:

  • Speed: Surfshark has reliably fast speeds, with only minimal slowdown on some servers during speed tests.
  • Privacy and Security: Surfshark has top-notch AES 256-bit encryption and privacy features.
  • Streaming/Bypassing geo-blocks: Surfshark can unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming sites all over the world, and can even get through the Great Firewall of China.
  • Ease of Use: Surfshark is user friendly, intuitive, and takes only a few minutes to set up. It also offers unlimited simultaneous connections across multiple platforms.
  • Support: Surfshark offers incredibly responsive 24/7 live-chat customer service, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

What We Analyzed in Surfshark

To get a more comprehensive picture of Surfshark’s strengths and challenges, my team and I set out to review Surfshark more systematically, taking into consideration a broader spectrum of all the important features that determine the quality of any effective VPN.

The elements we assessed were: speed, privacy, security, streaming capability, compatibility, price, ease-of-use, and support – all key ingredients that make up a top VPN.

Speed

It is important to remember that all VPNs will slow you to some degree; The question is, how much? And does this slowdown affect your experience?

To test Surfshark’s speeds, I ran a speed test of my own from my office in New York.

Before connecting to Surfshark, the download speed on my Android phone from my US location was 41.25 Mbps; My upload speed was 14.74; My ping was 53 ms.

I connected to Surfshark with its Quick Connect feature, which is meant to connect you to the fastest server available, automatically. Connected to this server, my download speeds decreased by 36.15% to 26.34Mbps. This may seem like a big decrease, but it was barely noticeable, as 26.34Mbps is still a good connection speed.

When I ran speed tests on other US servers, I got pretty similar results. While the speeds decreased, they were plenty fast for streaming in HD, torrenting, and gaming.

Next, I tried connecting to a long-distance server in the UK. My download speed decreased even further, which is to be expected with the longer distance. My download speed dropped to 21.3 Mbps; my upload speed dropped to 3.42Mbps; and my ping rose to 112 ms. All of these results were still fast enough for streaming and any online activity that I needed to perform.

When I tried to reach even further, connecting to an Asian server, my speeds decreased to 13.62 – still quite impressive considering the distance! My upload speed dropped to 16.1 and my ping rose to 136.

Speed Test Results: My test results showed that I had consistent, adequate speeds, and no dropped connections.

Privacy

One of the first things to look at when choosing a VPN is whether it will give you adequate privacy. The key points to take into consideration are whether your VPN keeps logs of your online traffic, personal identity, and IP address; whether it can block intrusive pop-ups; and whether it can keep your internet connection away from prying eyes.

No-logs policy

When it comes to customer privacy, no amount of logging is an acceptable amount of logging.

Surfshark VPN has a strict, verified no-logging policy. It will not store your IP addresses, browsing history, or DNS queries. The only information stored by Surfshark is your initial account sign-up info (just your email address, encrypted password, and payment info).

Another mark in favor of this VPN service is that this company is based in the British Virgin Islands, outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. The British Virgin Islands is a location where there are no data retention laws, so there is never any worry that Surfshark will store customer data.

Does it have a built-in ad blocker?

Yes. Surfshark has a built-in ad and malware blocker called CleanWeb. CleanWeb will also prevent phishing attempts. I tested this feature by surfing websites that are full of annoying ads, like YouTube, and CleanWeb worked beautifully. As a pleasant perk of missing all those ads, my internet speeds improved when CleanWeb was engaged because ads actually slow your browsing.

Security

Surfshark is a company that values user security. It provides customers with high-end features like IP and DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and military-grade encryption.

IP & DNS Leak Protection

A secure VPN is able to keep you safe from DNS leaks.

A leak test is an important way to determine if your VPN is inadvertently compromising any of your private data. We used ipleak.net to check for a DNS or IP leak.

I was happy to find that Surfshark didn’t leak my IPv6 address or my DNS requests.

Kill switch

In the event that your internet fails, Surfshark’s kill switch will automatically disconnect your internet, preventing any of your traffic or data from leaking. All you have to do is go to your Surfshark settings and enable the kill switch button.

Encryption

Surfshark uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption – the highest level of encryption available – ensuring that your activity and personal data are always hidden from your ISP or any third parties.

Surfshark offers a number of protocols for different type of user-needs: IKEv2, L2TP, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, and Wireguard protocols.

The IKEv2 protocol is among the most popular used by many VPNs.

OpenVPN, an open-source tunneling protocol, offers both OpenVPN UDP or TCP protocols. UDP is the better choice for streaming or gaming, while TCP is more stable, and will have less packet loss, but will slow your connection).

Shadowsocks is an open-source encrypted proxy that is helpful at bypassing strict internet censorship in places like China.

Wireguard, also an open-source VPN protocol, is a newer, ultra-fast, secure connection. You will want to make sure you have the latest version of Surfshark on your device in order to access Wireguard.

MultiHop mode

MultiHop is Surfshark’s double VPN mode. This offers you an added layer of security by connecting to two different VPN servers instead of just one. Most of the time, these two servers are located in different countries.

This extra layer of security will slow your connection, so most users shouldn’t opt to use this routinely.

Surfshark Alert

Surfshark Alert, formerly known as “Hacklock,” is a tool that will detect any signs of your hacked personal information online. If any of your data is found leaked online, you will get a message from Surfshark letting you know your information may have been compromised. This is a really cool feature that makes you feel like Surfshark is really looking out for you beyond your normal VPN streaming connection.

Camouflage mode

Camoflage mode is useful if you’re trying to bypass a firewall, or if you live in a country that restricts VPN usage – like China or Russia. It makes your encrypted traffic look like regular traffic, under deep packet inspection (DPI), so that nobody can see you’re using a VPN.

Server network & locations

Surfshark has an impressive server count, with 3,200 servers in over 65 countries around the world, so, wherever you are, you will be able to find a Surfshark server nearby.

Surfshark actually offers quite a large number of servers in South America and Africa – more than many other companies; and it offers servers in countries with stricter internet policies, like China and Russia.

Streaming

If you are using Surfshark predominately for streaming, you’ll be happy to hear that Surfshark has no trouble at all accessing all popular streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO GO, and BBC iPlayer.

Surfshark’s high-speed servers allowed me to stream all the shows I tried in HD with no buffering or lag – even when connecting to long-distance servers.

Surfshark is one of the best options for streaming, easily getting through geo-blocks with encrypted IP addresses in a large number server locations.

As an added benefit, using Surfshark’s CleanWeb to block ads while streaming made the experience much more enjoyable!

Torrenting

If you are looking for access to the Dark Web, or are looking for P2P sharing capabilities, Surfshark is a great option.

All Surfshark VPN server options allow P2P sharing, except in countries where torrenting is not allowed. If you connect to one of those servers, its app will reroute traffic to torrent-friendly servers in Canada or the Netherlands.

Security is never an issue with a Surfshark VPN connection, so there is no worry that your identity, location, or traffic will be leaked. For additional anonymity, users can opt to pay for the Surfshark service using cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin.

Whitelister is Surfshark’s split tunneling feature. This tool can single out a torrent client, enabling it to steer torrenting through one tunnel while your other internet traffic is sent through another channel.

Compatibility

Surfshark is compatible with all major operating systems, with intuitive apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Linux, and Firefox. There are also apps for some smart TVs, like Fire TV and Apple TV.

One of the most stand-out features of Surfshark is that it offers unlimited simultaneous connections on one subscription, so any of your many compatible devices – phones, tablets, Windows 10, mac, Smart TV – can be connected to your account at once.

You can use Surfshark’s SmartDNS to connect devices that normally don’t support a VPN, like PlayStation and Xbox. Note: SmartDNS will not change your IP address or encrypt your traffic on these devices. It will only unblock content.

Extensions

Surfshark has two available browser extensions – Chrome and Firefox. A browser extension is a quick and convenient way to use the Surfshark VPN connection without installing the desktop app. Remember that the Surfshark browser extension only covers the browser traffic, so browsers and apps outside of the extensions will use your regular unencrypted network connection.

Bypassing Geo-blocks And Great Firewall Of China

China is always working to ward off the latest VPN company that tries to break through its border, so only the strong, persistent VPNs will succeed at keeping up with this game of whack-a-mole.

From a large number of user experiences, though, it is apparent that Surfshark does bypass the blocks in China.

NoBorders mode

Surfshark’s NoBorders mode helps users in heavily censored or restricted countries, like China, overcome the restrictions. By enabling a simple switch in the app, Surfshark allows you to use a special list of servers that give you access to the free internet from within these heavily regulated locations.

Comparing Surfshark To Closest Competitors

Pricing

Compared to its rival VPN companies, Surfshark is the most affordable of the gang.

For a monthly subscription, here is the breakdown of prices for each company – Surfshark, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN:

Surfshark – $2.21/month for 24 months

NordVPN – $3.71/month for 24 months

ExpressVPN- $6.67/month for 24 months plus 3 months free

Unlike ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark offers a 7-day free trial for mobile users. You can activate your free trial by downloading the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

ExpressVPN
$6.67 /month
NordVPN
$9.67 /month
Surfshark
$12.87 /month

User-friendliness

You do not have to be a tech whiz to set up Surfshark. It is easy to use, no matter if you are a beginner or a pro.

The mobile and desktop apps are incredibly user friendly, with a clean, intuitive interface. You can either let the app choose the nearest high-speed server location for you with its Quick Connect feature, or opt for more customization and choose your own location.

Like Surfshark’s Quick Connect, NordVPN has its own similar Quick connect option, and ExpressVPN has Smart Location, all of which help automatically find you the best server based on each company ‘s technology.

Reliability

In addition to all of the extensive testing our team performed, I can attest to the fact that this VPN consistently delivers solid, reliable performance, whether streaming your content, torrenting, or keeping your online footprint completely private.

Its server connection speeds are super fast, it has top-notch security, and it is ridiculously easy to install and use. Simply put, it’s a reliably impressive VPN.

ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark will all reliably be able to get past the Great Firewall of China; and all three VPNs will consistently unblock main streaming services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer.

Support 

Surfshark is at the top of its game when it comes to support. You can access 24/7 live-chat customer support on its site that will give you answers to any of your troubleshooting needs within seconds, no matter what time of day. NordVPN and ExpressVPN also offer this live-chat feature.

I’ve found the support on Surfshark, however, to be exceptionally fast and professional, most of the time with only a few-seconds wait before a representative is graciously greeting you and ready to help, even with technical issues.

If you are not content with your service, Surfshark – as well as its top competitors, NordVPN and ExpressVPN – offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

FAQs

How good is Surfshark?

Overall, Surfshark is a super impressive VPN company with premium value and simple, stylish apps. It offers great bargains, with discounts on long-term plans, and a 30-day refund guarantee. Best of all, it allows you to connect unlimited simultaneous devices to one user account.

Does Surfshark work in China?

Per reports, Surfshark does work in China. Its NoBorders feature is helpful at bypassing censorship in places like China.

If you are having trouble getting around blocks, you can contact the Surfshark 24/7 customer service for help finding a server network that will work for you.

How much is Surfshark?

When you look at the cost of Surfshark’s service on a regular monthly plan, it doesn’t appear that reasonable. In fact, at $12. 95 per month, it’s actually more expensive than some of the competing VPNs.

If you opt to pay six months in one go, however, the price drops to $6.49 per month.

But, if you are willing to commit to the two-year plan, you’ll notice a huge drop in price: 24-months at just $2.21 a month. This plan undercuts just about every other premium VPN out there.

All things told, this is one of the best-value VPNs on the market for a VPN of Surfshark’s quality.

And remember: if you are nervous about committing to 24 months, there is a 7-day free mobile trial if you download the app from Google Play or the Apple Store, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

How fast is Surfshark?

In our tests, Surfshark’s connection speeds were actually quicker than expected. Though speed will depend on your server location, on the whole, Surfshark is a good-performing, fast VPN.

How good is Surfshark for streaming?

Surfshark is great at unblocking streaming sites.

Surfshark is not only good at getting around Netflix restrictions, but it is able to unblock Netflix in 15 regions, including Netflix US, Netflix Australia, and Netflix Japan, among others.

We were able to watch content from US YouTube, BBC iPlayer, and all the other main streaming services we tried, including Disney+ and US Amazon Prime.

How good is Surfshark for torrenting?

The Surfshark platform offers P2P support for almost all servers, and users who are particularly privacy-conscious have the option to pay with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.

Another service that could be helpful to Surfshark users looking to torrent is its Whitelisting feature. You can identify your desired torrent client, choosing to send its traffic through your VPN while your other internet traffic is funneled through a non-encrypted connection.

How easy is it to install Surfshark?

It is very simple to both install and connect to Surfshark, even for a VPN amateur.

Starting the VPN is as easy as tapping the “connect” button. A notification then pops up to confirm the connection. The IP location chosen and connected to is then displayed on the user interface.

How good are Surfshark’s desktop apps?

Setting up Surfshark’s desktop app is straightforward and intuitive. In our tests, we used Surfshark as a VPN on Windows, but it is also simple to use on a Mac.

The Windows client and Mac client also include the MultiHop feature, Whitelister, and a kill switch.

The static IP list that Surfshark offers allows users to connect to servers in places like the UK, Singapore, the US, and Japan so you can have a static, fixed IP address from the country you choose with each connection.

How good are Surfshark’s mobile apps?

Surfshark’s mobile apps are quite impressive. Surfshark’s apps for both Android and iPhone are packed with high-end features.

In the process of all of our research for this review, we found that the Android app and the Windows client were remarkably similar. They both have split tunneling, Whitelisting, and MultiHop, as well as a similar interface.

Mobile users can choose from different protocols, like Shadowsocks, OpenVPN/IVEv2, WireGuard, and enabling the kill switch.

It is particularly easy to navigate the Surfshark company customer support from your device if you have any troubleshooting needs about using the app.

How good is Surfshark’s browser extension?

Surfshark has browser extensions for Chrome and for Firefox.

Surfshark’s important features can be accessed using either browser extension. You can connect to over 3,200 servers, with server locations in 65 countries; and benefit from the provider’s private DNS technology, CleanWeb ad, and malware/ad-blocking.

What customer support does Surfshark offer?

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have accessed the Surfshark 24/7 live-chat support, which consistently gave me an answer to whatever question I had within 30 seconds of connecting. The live support box is much easier to find than on some other sites, and when you type in your question, you automatically see what number you are in line for support. Each time I logged on for help, I was #1 in line for live assistance. The support representatives always seemed knowledgeable and professional, and courteous.

Conclusion

After my review of Surfshark, there is no question that it is one of the best around, and that you will get great value for money with this VPN. Surfshark is one of the top VPN providers, packed with features, including its vast number of servers, privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands location, secure VPN connections, AES 256-bit encryption, unlimited number of devices, and low cost per month compared to other VPNs.

One competing provider that we also recommend is ExpressVPN. Although more expensive than Surfshark, it has more advanced features and even faster speeds than Surfshark.

I hope you enjoyed this Surfshark VPN review.

VPN service
Features
Best price
Score
Best Overall
  • Super fast.
  • Reliable & ultra-secure.
  • Great for HD/4K streaming.
  • Chrome, Firefox & Edge extensions.
  • 24/7 live chat support.
  • Outstanding!
$12.95
$6.67 /mo
Save 49%
Best Value
  • Fast speeds.
  • Strong privacy & security.
  • Uninterrupted streaming.
  • Ad-blocker included.
  • Chrome & Firefox extensions.
  • 24/7 live chat support.
$11.95
$3.71 /mo
Save 68%
Best Budget
  • Fast VPN streamlined for beginners.
  • Strong encryption & privacy features.
  • Chrome & Firefox extensions.
  • 24/7 live chat support.
$12.95
$2.21 /mo
Save 83%
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